August 10, 2021 4 minute read
We are in the age of the customer. Alok Kulkarni explains why the contact center is the heart and soul of customer experience (CX) and how post-pandemic it is going to look very different in the months and years to come.
Humans rarely communicate through a single channel. Additionally, a growing percentage of the iGen generation – the first generation to spend their teenage years in the smartphone era, born between 1995 and 2012 – make up the current customer base. This move towards omnichannel communication will only grow as more and more iGens – and subsequently Gen Alpha, those born after 2013 – come of age.
As a result, how, where and when a customer interacts with a brand is now determined by the customer. SAS reports that by 2030, 67% of engagement between consumers and brands will be on digital devices. Companies able to meet this demand will be ahead of the competition.
To better meet these expectations, organizations are already integrating a range of social media platforms and technology tools, such as Facebook, Messenger and Zoom, into their contact center capabilities. The contact centers of the future will need to be proficient in omnichannel communications that deliver positive CX seamlessly throughout the customer journey.
Adopt a data science mindset
The growth of digital customer engagement capabilities is generating a wealth of data that will become critical to the future of business. But data collection is just the tip of the iceberg. If brands want to transform CX, they really need to understand their customers. This is where data plays a key role.
Organizations that succeed in the customer experience game will adopt a data science mindset. Invest in products, platforms and infrastructure that allow them to process massive amounts of data and turn it into action.
Solve problems before customers know about them
Companies that can quickly take a data point and extract meaningful action will be able to resolve issues before customers even know about it. With this rich information, brands can be proactive, predictive and prepared. They can transform the contact center from a reactive function to a proactive help-seeking function. By removing customer responsibility and adding a layer of automated or human awareness, brands can demonstrate how much they value their customers.
As the role of CX continues to grow and evolve, much higher volumes of interactions will take place across increasingly dispersed channels. This makes quality assurance more complex and vital than ever, creating the need to integrate monitoring and testing into the daily operation of a contact center.
Embrace an automated lifestyle
Automation has already emerged in many contact centers, allowing customers to serve and inform themselves efficiently.. While automation plays an important role in solving low-complexity problems and simple interactions, the reality is that we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of its capabilities. Currently, machines cannot perform tasks such as asking follow-up questions, but once trained they will be able to interpret and understand customer intent, which has the potential to change the CX game.
However, in such a digitally driven and automated lifestyle, the human element will continue to play an important role in terms of empathy and critical thinking. As such, it is essential that contact centers do not completely deviate from providing a high-value sensory customer experience that only humans can provide.
The power of human contact
Aided by an ever-increasing automation maturity, data science and artificial intelligence (AI) companies will look to invest in upskilling their agents, placing them in more specialized roles.
Agents will move away from transactional tasks, instead focusing on complex, unstructured customer queries and challenges. Organizations will provide emotional intelligence (EQ) training so that agents can better understand and manage the emotions and feelings of their customers. Developing these more general skills will enable agents to effectively resolve customer interactions, enabling them to become brand heroes for their customers.
Thanks to the catalyst of COVID-19, customer experience has taken on a whole new importance. The contact centers of the future will offer experiences designed by consumers, while those that offer the generic experience suitable for everyone will soon be suitable for no one.
Alok Kulkarni is the CEO and co-founder of Cyara.
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